Personal Reflections on Contraceptive Choice


When I was in high school, I had the worst cramps. Every month I would have the most excruciating pain and I would have to stay home from school because the pain would make it unbearable for me to focus in class. My grandmother is a pentecostal christian who is not that fond of birth control, but the thought of me having to stay home from school for 5 days every month made the idea of it sound more appealing. One day, my grandmother made a doctor’s appointment so I could discuss birth control methods to regulate my period. When I got to the doctor’s office I was pretty nervous, I had never considered taking birth control; besides I wasn’t sexually active. When my doctor called me into his office and I discussed with the him the killer cramps and funky mood swings, he politely said to me,

“I’m Christian and I believe that women should not take birth control if they are not sexually active, so I cannot prescribe the pill.”

I looked at him in awe and couldn’t believe I was being rejected from my doctor based on his biased christian belief. I thought to myself, I’m christian too, but I also have cramps, and I know that birth control regulates your period. As I walked out the doctor’s office, I knew something was wrong with this picture.

Many young women are denied birth control every year due to the religious bias of their practitioners. But what’s even more disturbing is many young women are not even informed about their contraceptive options.

For example, recent evidence from the United Kingdom shows that many women in the UK  are not informed of contraceptives and end up terminating pregnancies that could have been prevented in the first place.

According to Talk Choice, “Potentially 2 million women in the UK are using a contraceptive they are not happy with.”

Recently, Private Healthcare UK reported that a leading pharmaceutical company has suggested  that some women are terminating pregnancies because they have been unaware of the contraceptive methods available to them.

In the UK, according to Talk Choice, 52 percent of women are not offered a choice for contraception.

According to The Times, “Besides the 23 brands of Pill, there are 14 types of female contraceptive, ranging from intrauterine devices to patches, implants and injections that slowly release hormones. A patch lasts a week, an injection eight or twelve weeks, and an implant three years.”

If there was more availabity when it comes to the different birthcontrol methods, unwanted pregnancies could be avoided.

According to Private Healthcare UK, “Dr Caroline Cooper, an expert on contraception, commented: “Women of all ages are not aware of the significant amount of contraception choice available to them, some of which have great benefits and can totally transform your life”

A Harris Interactive survey of more than 500 women found that only a third of those using contraceptives had been offered a choice of method in the past year, compared with more than half in 2007. The findings back up data from 86 primary care trusts which show that less than half of general practices offer a full range of contraceptives — with some doctors blaming budgetary constraints.

Practitioners, both private and public, need to realize that each woman that enters their offices is different. Some women may need more information and resources to choose the best possible birth control method for their bodies, while others may only need a 5 minute explanation. Each practitioner should think about counseling women and making sure they understand the side effects and the risk associated with the method of choice, making it easier for a woman to choose the birth control method that fits her body, all while having a back up method. As a practitioner, women are putting their trust in you to help them make the best decision for their bodies, that means giving them the most accurate and up-to-date information you have, or just being there as someone they can converse with if they have questions.

According to Guttmacher Institute, “Providers overwhelmingly view better and more counseling as one of the most important strategies for improving clients’ contraceptive use, even though scientific evidence that effective counseling improves contraceptive use is slim.”

“Nonetheless, providers differ widely in their counseling practices for continuing contraceptive clients: Public providers and private 0bstetrician gynecologists are more likely than private family practice physicians to often or always discuss method side effects and satisfaction with continuing clients. Public and private providers differ widely on counseling protocols for continuing pill users. Some 58–64% of public providers often or always discuss four important topics with their pill clients—the availability of different formulations, ways to cope.”

So, what I realized from reading the statistics and facts about the UK is women everywhere are getting far less than adequate information and have far fewer choices in practice than they should in theory when it comes to information about contraceptives. Being denied birth control made me realize the importance of doing research and making sure you are happy with the doctors or contraceptive you choose to use.  There is nothing more frustating then paying a lot of money for contraception and then having to switch because it wasn’t right for your body. Hopefully with new information women in the UK will start being informed on the many methods of birthcontrol and the fear of unwanted pregnancies will slowly decline.

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